Japanese and Chinese antiques and art from B & C
Japanese Carpenter's Wood Line Marker: Sumitsubo

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Folk Art: Pre 1900: item # 79361

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Derby, CT 06418

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Japanese Carpenter's Wood Line Marker: Sumitsubo
The Japanese “sumi-tsubo” was used by carpenters to mark long, straight, precise cut-lines on the surface of timber. This mid-19th century Edo period sumi-tsubo (“ink pot”) was hand-crafted from durable and finely grained keyaki wood. The partially visible wheel held a line of twisted thread which was fed off the spool into a rectangular well and out through a hole where it would be attached to a stickpin. India ink was kept soaked into a wad of cotton in the well. Running the line through the well gave it a coating of black ink which, when properly positioned, could be transferred to the wood to be cut. A carpenter holds this tool in his left hand, positions the stickpin where one end of the cutting line should be, unwinds the soaked string, and moves to the correct location for the opposite end of the line. He pulls the thread to draw it taut, then he lowers it and gives it a firm pluck, and a straight line is left on the surface of the timber from the ink on the line. In the west there were no carpentry tools in which the ink well, marking thread, winding wheel and stickpin were united into one piece.

This commonplace tool, which has played a pivotal role in the development of Japanese architecture throughout the centuries, is a wonderful example of “mingei.” Such functional folk-craft products are endowed with a beauty directly connected with their utility – a beauty that is simple, humble and unassuming.

CONDITION is excellent.

DIMENSIONS: 7 ˝” (19 cm) long, 1 5/8” (4.2 cm) wide, 2 1/8” (5.5 cm) high.

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